Tag Archives: Walt Disney World

Throwing a Disney Bridal Shower at ‘Ohana

27 Jan
Lisa, Sharon, and Stitch at the bridal shower

Who invited this blue guy to a bridal shower?!? Why, me!

There were moments when I thought I was nuts for reserving a table at the ‘Ohana restaurant for my BFF‘s bridal shower last Sunday, at Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort. After all, who throws a bridal shower at a character meal? But when the bride and groom are both Disney freaks, throwing a Fairy Tale Wedding at WDW, it makes a certain amount of sense. Lisa and Trace are not just Disney freaks, but both podcasters: Lisa and I are co-hosts of Those Darn Cats, and Trace is a co-host of The Disney Dudes, and in fact it was the Disney online fan community that brought them together.

I’d picked the venue in part because it’s possible to reserve tables for fairly large parties, and I wasn’t sure how many people we’d be accommodating. I also liked the theme that the name implied: ‘Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.

(I was a little tweaked by the fact that my son finds the Polynesian restaurant offensive, due to its appropriation of Hawaiian culture, and I’m kinda with him on this, but I set that aside. One could argue that the same issue affects the actual Hawaiian Islands, actually.)

Making the invitations was awfully fun. I found a suitable floral theme in an invitation kit at my local Target, from the Letter Impress line, and embellished it with pictures of Lilo and Stitch.

Lilo and Stitch invitations for the bridal shower

My mother helped me with favors for the shower, and flower leis for the bride, as she lives in Hawaii two months each year, and would be traveling from Hawaii for the wedding. She brought two leis, one with fresh flowers, and the other dried flowers as a keepsake.

Lisa wearing three leis

Three leis in all: Two from Hawaii, one from the concierge

She also brought plumeria earrings from a shop on Maui, which nicely complimented the candles and mints I’d bought online.

Bridal Shower Favors

I arrived an hour early for our reservation, in the hopes that the Cast Members at ‘Ohana would help decorate the table in some small way, perhaps just a sprinkling of the Mickey confetti that I’ve seen on so many Disney tables before. But the ‘Ohana CMs told me they didn’t have any such thing, and suggested I check the stores. Thanks to a helpful tip from a CM at the pin station near the monorail entrance, I went to the Concierge desk and was given an armful of plastic leis, with plenty for my guests plus a couple to take apart and scatter on the table. Once our shower guests had all arrived (including the bride of course!) the ‘Ohana CMs brought me to the table ahead of the group, and helped me prepare the table with favors and flower petals.

Our table at 'Ohana for the bridal shower

Once we were done, it didn't look half bad

The meal itself was quite good, with the typical heavy breakfast foods of the ‘Ohana character breakfast menu. Having the meal served family-style worked well for a bridal shower, so everyone could sit and chat, and the food just kept coming. It was also easy to plan for budget-wise, especially since ‘Ohana accepts the Tables in Wonderland card.

And, of course, we showered the bride with gifts! I can hardly describe all the wonderful presents that the guests brought, but I’ve just gotta tell you about something I stumbled across: When I’d stopped at the concierge desk for table decorations, the concierge had also given me a few buttons to give to the bride, and I’d tucked them into the bag with my other presents. Little did I know that two of the pins the concierge had given me are out-of-print; Lisa tells me that they’re the Holy Grail of the wedding planning DISBoards.

Just Married pin from Walt Disney World

Just Married pins

Lisa and Karen

Note the new Dooney and Bourke bag on Lisa's hip?

Finally, it was time to leave for Epcot, to continue the pre-wedding festivities and meet up with the guys in the party. But not without paying our respects to the big cheese! Lilo, Stitch, and Pluto had all stopped by, but we didn’t get a chance to see Mickey until we were on our way out.

Family and friends at 'Ohana Bridal Shower, at WDW's Polynesian Resort

Family and friends at 'Ohana Bridal Shower, at WDW's Polynesian Resort

I’m sure that a bridal shower with huge, plush characters stopping by for hugs doesn’t suit everyone’s style. But we had a blast, and in my humble opinion it was a great way to kick off the Weddingfest activities last weekend. Many thanks to all the guests, and to the Cast Members at ‘Ohana for such terrific service! Special shout-outs go to Genevieve at the concierge desk for the pins, and Twana at ‘Ohana for her cheerful and welcoming service. (And yes, dear readers, I’ll be following my own advice to let Disney know when Cast Members have provided especially excellent service by dropping Guest Services a note.)

Congratulations, Lisa! And thanks for letting me throw you a party.

Jennifer and Pluto

A hug for me from Pluto

 

Lines: Leveling Up at Disneyland

22 Jan
Fun Phones not operating sign in Toontown

I think not

Embarrassing but true: On my day trip to Disneyland this week, I was more excited about using the Touring Plans Lines app on my Droid than riding the Matterhorn.

Here’s the thing: I’d only used Lines once since they’d added the gaming mechanics, and since I’d come down with a bacterial bronchial infection during that August trip to Walt Disney World, I spent far more time sweating out fevers and watching Phineas and Ferb than touring the parks. So, while I’d opened up the app a few times on that trip, I hadn’t really taken it for a spin.So, I was thrilled to receive a review copy of the new Disneyland version of the Lines app shortly before my planned day-trip to the happiest place on earth, in the middle of a business trip to Southern California. I knew that the advice on wait times that the app provides would be less crucial on a chilly Wednesday in January than on peak times in the park, so was mostly stoked about leveling up a time or two, and earning a few badges on the way.

Fun Phones in Toontown

My Droid + Lines > Toontown Fun Phones

How it works: Within the Lines app, you can view current estimated wait times for all attractions in the park, and post wait times based on your own experience. The wait time estimates in the app are developed through 10 years of historical data gathered by the Touring Plans team, plus user-reported times gathered through the app. And it’s these user-reported wait times that bring the gaming mechanisms into play: As you report wait times, you can level up by reporting increasing numbers of wait times, and earn badges by reporting times for specific attractions, combinations of attractions, or times of day.

(My son had warned me that achievement-based gaming systems can lead to long boring stretches of nothing but grinding on menial tasks in order to earn badges. But if grinding can mean walking around Disneyland, count me in.)

Golden Horseshoe Revue

The view from my charging station on the balcony in the Golden Horsheshoe

A message board is built into the app, with separate sections for Disneyland Chat and Walt Disney World Chat. There seems to be a fairly healthy community of Lines fans hanging out in the chat most of the time, which came in handy when I had questions about the best place to charge a cell phone (Golden Horseshoe balcony, where you can charge up while catching a show), or whether there are any coast-to-coast badges that we bi-coastal park fans can earn (nope, but there are multi-park-in-one-day). You can also look at each users’s stats, and when you submit wait times, you’re told who the current “top submitter” is for that attraction. And as with most popular message board systems, there’s a lot of trip advice and social chat as well.

The user interface is quite good, with the occasional irritating glitch. For some reason, it seems to re-set to its home page whenever I slide out my Droid 2 Global keyboard, but that was easy to deal with once I realized I only needed the keyboard when using the Chat (and then simply opened it before drilling down into the Chat section. Everything also got easier once I realized that, if I just left the app on the list of attractions for the park, I could just click on the “+ Time” button in the upper right to be brought to a page from which I could select any attraction and report a wait time.

Mr. Toad and I

Meeting with a Research Associate

In addition to the gaming mechanics, another feature had been added since last I’d used Lines: You can now submit wait times not just from the posted time on the attraction, but also by timing your own wait using the app. This wasn’t just cool, it also allowed me to post wait times for attractions that didn’t have a posted time, or where I was sure the posted time wouldn’t match the actual wait (for example, a 10 minute posted time for Pinnochio was a walk-on instead).

I haven’t tried any of the Disney-sponsored phone apps, as (to the best of my knowledge) they’re not available on the Droid. But I suspect I wouldn’t enjoy them as much as the Lines app, since Disney wouldn’t be likely to allow as much un-moderated interaction among users as the Lines app supports (I do believe the Lines folks would clean up anything seriously wrong posted to the Chat, but they don’t seem to sanitize things as a general rule).

So, how did my day at Disneyland turn out? Well, I was right – a chilly Wednesday in January means very short wait times for most attractions, so I didn’t rely much on the app to guide my steps. In fact, I’d entered the park with the One-Day Touring Plan for Adults, but abandoned it after the first few attractions, since both experience and the Lines app were telling me wait times were short enough that the criss-crossing of the park which this plan includes wasn’t actually necessary under the circumstances. I rode every attraction I wanted to, sometimes two or three times, and even lost track of how many times I went on that wild ride with Mr. Toad.And my new Lines stats? I’m now an Unofficial Scholar, having submitted a total of 65 wait times so far. I’m hoping to level  up again next week; if I can submit another 10 wait times before this weekend’s trip to my BFF’s WeddingFest at WDW is over, I can get promoted to Crowd Specialist. Plus, I earned a few new badges, my favorites being Shrunken Ned (Wait times for every attraction in Adventureland) and Nowhere in Particular (5 wait times for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride).

Plus yes, I did ride the Matterhorn, and I have to admit it was more thrilling than leveling up. The fact that it’s got a working Yeti (unlike Expedition Everest) is a darn impressive selling point. But it’s a good thing I don’t have to choose between Lines and the Yeti, because it would be a close call.

Jentasmic: Rants and Ramblings about Disney Stock

14 Jan

Am I bitter about the economy? Yes, and for good reason. In the midst of the US’s “jobless recovery,” the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer. Per usual. If you need the charts and stats, check out this Business Insider article.

Case in point: The juxtaposition of the 10-year-high price for Disney stock, and the financial hardships faced by many Cast Members, ultimate point of my rant this week on StudiosCentral.

And what does Disney’s stock price mean for Cast Members? Well, if they’re earning enough money to support participation in the Employee stock purchase program mentioned on the WDW web site, then they can benefit just like any other investor. And I’m guessing that some of the higher-level Cast Members may have significant stock holdings. Disney has continued to pay dividends regularly, and will do so again next week. The current economy does seem to favor stocks that pay dividends, as many investors are strapped for cash, and might also be nervous about whether any stock will reliably retain value, after some of the market drops we’ve seen in recent years.

But after having done some research lately on what Cast Members are paid, and watching the ongoing union negotiations at Walt Disney World, I’m guessing most can’t afford to invest in stock. Listening to first-hand accounts from some Cast Members on the Mousetrapped video series produced by one of the Cast Member unions, I’m left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

If all goes as planned, this month I’ll be fortunate enough to set foot in Disney Parks on both coasts, due to a SoCal business trip next week, and my BFF’s WDW wedding the week after. I will enjoy the hell out of this double-dose Disney fix. But I can’t say it won’t bug me to think of the inequities of the situation, and I promise I’ll tip whomever I can, whenever I can.

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